Japan's Ozawa quizzed over alleged false funding reports

10:13, May 16, 2010      

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Tokyo prosecutors questioned ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa on Saturday over his fund management body's alleged false reporting of political funds.

It was the third time the DPJ No. 2 had been grilled about the matter since late January.

In a written comment, Ozawa said, "I straightforwardly explained the truth, based on my recollection."

But Ozawa completely denied his involvement during the questioning, Kyodo News reported, citing sources close to him.

On April 28, the Tokyo No. 5 committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, comprised of 11 citizens selected by lottery, decided Ozawa merits indictment over his political funds management body Rikuzankai's alleged false reporting of political funds in 2004 and 2005.

The decision was made in closed-door deliberations following a complaint filed by a citizens group against the prosecutors' previous decision not to indict Ozawa.

The committee's decision last month has intensified calls from Ozawa's own party members as well as opposition members and the public for the secretary-general to clearly explain his involvement in the case, which up until now have not been made clear enough to satisfy his skeptics' doubts.

Originally prosecutors dropped a case against Ozawa over the alleged false reporting of his political funds on February 4 because there was not enough evidence to convict him at trial as a conspirator.

However, if the panel decides again in favor of indictment, a team of court-appointed lawyers will act as prosecutors and file criminal charges against Ozawa, according to the Inquest of Prosecution Law.

Meanwhile, three of Ozawa's former state-funded secretaries were indicted on charges of violating the Political Funds Control Law as they failed to book the money flows in Ozawa's political fund reports.

Ozawa was previously implicated in a highly-public scandal involving massive donations from general contractor Nishimatsu Construction Co., which led to the resignation of Ozawa as DPJ president last May.

Source: Xinhua


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